One Of OSU’s Earliest Stars

Today marks the 113th anniversary of the birth of one of Ohio State’s earliest football stars. You may not know his name but you’ve probably seen his picture.

Gaylord Roscoe “Pete” Stinchcomb was born June 24, 1895, near Sycamore, Ohio, a tiny village just northeast of Upper Sandusky. He became a football, basketball and track star at nearby Fremont High School, and was enticed to continue his playing career at Ohio State.

The Buckeyes were experiencing their first taste of recognition on the national scene thanks to halfback Chic Harley, who had led the team to a perfect 7-0 record in 1916 and the school’s first conference championship.

Stinchcomb joined the varsity squad the following season and together with Harley made for one of the most lethal backfield combinations in college football. According to newspaper accounts of the day, “Harley lit the fire and Stinchcomb fanned the flames.”

In the season opener against Case, the Buckeyes suffered a potentially devastating blow when Harley suffered an injury and spent most of the afternoon on the sidelines. But Stinchcomb took over at halfback and scored a couple of touchdowns as Ohio State rolled to a 49-0 victory.

Two weeks later, in the conference opener against Northwestern, Harley was back at full strength and provided the blocking for three touchdown runs by Stinchcomb during a 40-0 win.

Ohio State eventually stormed its way to another undefeated season, going 8-0-1 (the lone blemish being a 0-0 tie against Auburn) and outscoring its opposition by a whopping 292-6 margin. More importantly, the Buckeyes had clinched another conference title, their first back-to-back outright championships. That is a feat that has been equaled only twice since – 1954-55 and 2006-07.

Harley and Stinchcomb each missed the 1918 season while serving in World War I, but they made a triumphant return the following year. With Harley at halfback and Stinchcomb moving to quarterback, the Buckeyes won their first six games including their first-ever victory over Michigan, a 13-3 win at Ann Arbor. Unfortunately, the duo missed out on another Western Conference championship when the team suffered a 9-7 upset loss to Illinois in the 1919 season finale. After the season, Harley and Stinchcomb earned first-team All-America honors. It was the third award for Harley and the first for Stinchcomb.

With Harley having graduated, Stinchcomb moved back to a halfback position in 1920 and finished his collegiate career with another undefeated regular season and conference championship. He scored three times in the team’s 55-0 season-opening win over Ohio Wesleyan, then returned a kickoff 95 yards for a touchdown the following week to help OSU to a 37-0 victory over Oberlin.

Against Wisconsin in the conference season opener the next week, Stinchcomb scored on touchdown receptions of 36 and 48 yards – the latter with just 50 seconds remaining – to key a 13-7 win over the Badgers. It was Wisconsin’s only loss that season.

The Buckeyes continued their winning ways, topping off the regular season with a 7-0 win at Illinois. With just 0:04 showing on the game clock, Ohio State scored when Stinchcomb was used as a decoy to draw several Illini defenders to the wide side of the field before quarterback Harry Workman connected with end Cyril “Truck” Myers for a 37-yard touchdown. Stinchcomb kicked the extra point to account for the final point of the contest.

The victory propelled the Buckeyes into their first-ever appearance in the Rose Bowl, a game that resulted in a 28-0 loss to California that so thoroughly disappointed university officials the school would not accept another invitation to Pasadena for 29 years. The loss wasn’t exactly Stinchcomb’s fault, though. He ran for a team-high 82 yards on 11 carries before exiting the game in the second half with an injury.

Stinchcomb finished his Ohio State football career with a 21-2-1 record and earned his second straight All-America honor in 1920. Football wasn’t the only thing that defined Stinchcomb, however. He later capped his collegiate athletic career in the spring of 1921 by winning the NCAA long jump championship, and also served as president of the OSU Student Council during his senior year.

After graduation, Stinchcomb rejoined Harley and played for the Chicago Staleys of American Professional Football Association (the precursor of the National Football League) and the former Ohio State teammates won themselves another championship. Stinchcomb ran for 180 yards and a team-high four touchdowns in 1921 while Harley played quarterback and completed 8 of 13 passes for 120 yards and three TDs.

The following year, Harley left the team but Stinchcomb remained and was among the team leaders in rushing, receiving, punt returns and scoring as the Staleys became the Chicago Bears. Following the 1922 season, Stinchcomb departed Chicago and played with pro teams in Columbus, Cleveland and Louisville before retiring from the game in 1925.

He returned home to northern Ohio and began a successful construction business in Findlay.

Stinchcomb made regular appearances at Ohio State football games, especially for the annual captains’ breakfasts, until his death in 1973 at the age of 78. That same year, he was inducted into the College Football Hall of Fame

In the 35 years since his death, Stinchcomb’s legacy has been largely lost. But it had been reborn several times in recent history because of an iconic photograph taken after a muddy game in 1920. One of the most recent showings of the photo came during a second-season episode of the long-running sitcom “Everybody Loves Raymond,” in which fictional New York Newsday sportswriter Ray Barone remodels his basement as a home office.

Adorning one wall, located just above Raymond’s desk, is the photo showing the mud-caked smiling face of Gaylord Stinchcomb. Here is a link to that famous photo: Muddy Grin.

HAPPY! HAPPY!

Another former Buckeye was born on this day.

Antoine Winfield was born June 24, 1977, in Akron, Ohio, and was a star at Garfield High School and was the state’s defensive player of the year in Division I before signing with Ohio State in 1995. Winfield became known as one of the top cover men in college football and won the Thorpe Award in 1998 as the nation’s top defensive back. Buffalo selected him with the 23rd pick of the first round in the 1999 NFL draft and Winfield played with the Bills for five seasons. He moved to Minnesota following the 2003 season and has been a starter with the Vikings ever since. Winfield’s nine-year career stats in the NFL include 128 games (112 starts), 590 tackles and 18 interceptions.

Also celebrating birthdays today: two-time U.S. Open golf champion Billy Casper; rock guitar virtuoso Jeff Beck; Fleetwood Mac founding member Mick Fleetwood; Tears For Fears lead singer Curt Smith; actress Michelle Lee (the third “Knots Landing” cast member this month); former New York Gov. George Pataki; former U.S. Secretary of Labor Robert Reich; actress Sherry Stringfield (“ER”); actor Peter Weller (“Robocop”); fiery former Tampa Bay Lightning head coach John Tortorella; and former Duke and current Orlando Magic guard J.J. Redick.

Among those passing into history on this day: Declaration of Independence signers Matthew Thornton (1803) and Thomas McKean (1817); U.S. President Grover Cleveland (1908); comedian Jackie Gleason (1987); NFL Hall of Fame receiver Don Hutson (1997); actor Brian Keith (1997); and ventriloquist Paul Winchell (2005).

NEVER LET THE FACTS GET IN THE WAY OF A GOOD STORY

Some blogger on beacherreport.com posted an entry with his/her “Top Ten College Football Traditions Fans Love to Hate.” Situated at No. 7 on the list was dotting the “i” in Script Ohio.

Obviously, this nudnik knows nothing about the tradition and what’s more has never witnessed it either on TV or in person. How do I know? By this description: “How did this become important? Seems like it would be a bigger deal at Mississippi. Why not have two band members cross the t?”

The “t”?!?!? Where exactly is the “t” in the word “Ohio”? Maybe this idiot think the band spells out the word “State.”

Just in case you care, the top 10 most hated traditions on this particular list are:

1. Stanford’s tree mascot

2. Tennessee fans singing “Rocky Top”

3. Florida State’s Seminole chief throwing his spear into the turf

4. South Carolina’s piped-in rooster crow

5. Texas mascot Bevo the longhorn steer charging onto the field

6. Colorado mascot Ralphie the buffalo charging onto the field

7. Dotting the “i” in Script Ohio

8. USC’s Trojan warrior mascot charging onto the field atop a white horse

9. Clemson players rubbing Howard’s Rock for good luck

10. Penn State’s piped-in lion roar

NFL NETWORK TO BUDDY UP WITH ESPN?

The National Football League has been exploring a possible partnership of its NFL Network and ESPN, according to a report in Monday’s Wall Street Journal.

The report says that NFL Network president and chief executive officer Steve Bornstein has been engaged in “high-level discussions” with Disney executives in recent months. Among others rumored to have been involved with the talks are NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Robert Iger, president and CEO of the Walt Disney Co., ESPN’s parent company.

The report says that one possible scenario would see the NFL Network combined with ESPN Classic, which has a higher rate of distribution than the NFL Network. ESPN would then potentially increase the number of games broadcast on the NFL Network, currently eight, in order to increase subscription fees.

The report says that even though talks have been going on, there is nothing to suggest that a deal might be imminent.

Even though I’m not in favor of much more under the ESPN umbrella, I wouldn’t mind this kind of merger. Currently, my cable provider (Time Warner) does not carry the NFL Network, which features a lot of programming I would watch. It does, however, carry ESPN Classic, which features a lot of programming I have no desire to watch.

AND FINALLY

** With yesterday’s announcement that Barry Melrose will take over head coaching duties with the Tampa Bay Lightning, I wonder if the New York Mets know that their former manager Yogi Berra is available?

** Congratulations if you selected Francisco Rodriguez of the Angels for your fantasy team. As of right now, the guy has 31 saves. Of course, the top five guys in the American League — Rodriguez, George Sherrill of Baltimore (25), Mariano Rivera of New York (21), Jonathan Papelbon of Boston (21) and Joakim Soria of Kansas City (20) — would all be leading the National League. Brian Wilson of the Giants and Kerry Wood of the Cubs lead the NL with 19 apiece.

** In case you missed it last night, Felix Rodriguez of the Seattle Mariners became the first American League pitcher in 37 years to hit a grand slam when he connected off Mets ace Johan Santana. You’re a real baseball trivia expert if you knew the last AL pitcher to hit a bases-loaded jack was Cleveland’s Steve Dunning in 1971 — two years before the designated hitter began to water down the Junior Circuit.

** Between now and Sept. 13, everyone is going to tell you how poor old slow Ohio State has no chance to keep up with the thoroughbreds that populate Pac-10 standard bearer USC’s roster. What you probably won’t hear is that the Buckeyes are 11-2 against the Pac-10 (including bowl games) since 1991.

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